As the New Year gets underway so do the bass! It’s a known fact Alabama’s bass feed and fatten up during the mid-to-late winter period. Officially, that’s January and February in Alabama. March is the pre spawn month for Alabama’s bass.
At times, to the angler, the month of March can feel like winter. But actually, March is the beginning of the spring season and it’s the time for pre spawn male and female bass to begin their annual trek towards the shallows to produce another year’s offspring.
No matter what bass species you’re targeting in Alabama’s impounded waterways — whether its largemouth bass, smallmouth bass or spotted bass — you should always be prepared for either good or bad weather during these aforementioned months.
These annual feeding sprees and spawning rituals will inevitably take place this winter and early spring season, no matter what lake you plan to fish. But dealing with various types of incoming weather is never all that predictable.
Anglers that fish for Alabama’s various bass species during these first three months of the New Year will have a really good chance at fooling some of the year’s biggest bass into biting. Dealing with the elements is always a challenge.
Each week there are changes that take place on all of Alabama’s lakes that will defiantly be a determining factor on where these bass will be located. The weather always plays a huge role, not only during winter and spring, but in the summer and fall seasons as well.
Rising or falling lake levels, incoming warming trends, constant cold fronts, ever- changing water conditions and the availability (or the absence) of food are other factors that keep these late winter / early spring bass on the move.
Adjusting…just like the bass, will reap huge rewards for those anglers that study all of these conditions for each month. Like said, “Always look at the weather” before any planned fishing trip! Even going back and looking at the last few days’ weather conditions will aid an angler in predicting what to expect on the next planned fishing trip.
The weather, as usual, plays a huge roll on where these schools of bass will be located in winter. Even loners, often “Big Bass” those that prefer to travel alone, can be found in some very shallow water at times…and usually when very unexpected.
Or these bigger-than-average bass may be harder for some anglers to locate. Like during severe cold fronts. This is when these late winter bass are rather dormant, holding along some of the deeper portions of the many, many, miles of deep water to be found on any Alabama lake. Or buried up in some thick shallow water cover.
So some searching is required on the part of the mid-winter, early-spring angler. Just keep in mind, to always look at the current conditions and always look at last week’s weather.
With weather, you get conditions. Heavy rains of 5-6 inches in a day’s time can swell some of Alabama’s lakes far over normal, full pool levels. Flooding spreads out these bass that originally made their homes near the now, newly flooded shallows.
* Flooding also makes these bass hard to find.
The in-undated shoreline, when flooded several feet over normal full pool levels, can be covered with as much as 5-10 feet of flooded water! For bass anglers hoping to go fishing during these times of flooded lakes, its best to just stay home until conditions improve.
Or you can move far down the lake to the lower end, where better conditions such as clearer water clarity may be taking place. Perhaps then fishing deep water drop-offs, ledges, and flooded humps, submerged islands and other irregular bottom features and possibly find more cooperative bass!
Warming trends during winter start occurring in December. They continue to just “pop up” all throughout the month of January. Even week-long warming trends can occur at any time during February, traditionally the coldest month in Alabama.
Warming trends, taking place from early to late March, can trigger these “normal, pre spawn bass” to suddenly move shallow, starting the process of fanning out the lakes bottom and creating beds.
Both male and female bass can be duped into thinking its time to prepare their beds for the spawn, when at times, it’s actually not. The next cold front will suddenly send them back to the pre spawn mode, until more ideal conditions take place.
* With warming trends you get warming waters. Each warming trend is different.
Warming trends vary. For instance; if it’s been real warm during early spring, like 60 -70 degrees all day, the water temperatures in the shallows can rise as much as 5-8 degrees by late evening.
This sudden increase in the water temperature can induce these otherwise sluggish bass to feed heavily as their metabolism is quickly speeded up. As their day goes on, they eat more and more with each significant rise in the water temperature.
Even just a few degrees rise in the water temperature found throughout the shallows, (coupled with an available food source), will use up a lot of energy when chasing down meals.
* This sudden burst of energy requires these bass to eat more often, than when water temperatures are colder and they need less food, thus expending less energy.
The more food intake for these bass means more energy exerted chasing down the day’s next meal…which might be a fake offering you presented!
This sudden, mid winter to early spring feeding session could continue on into sundown on any of these warm, sunny days. But keep in mind this frantic feeding action in the shallows could suddenly be halted with a quick drop in the mercury, as another cold winter night approaches.
Cold nights suddenly moving in can lower the water temperatures in the shallows as much as 10 degrees overnight! Making morning fishing the next day often slow.
On the other hand; A couple of warm days, or three-five warm days in a row — coupled with several unseasonably warm nights — can make all the difference in the world!
This type of warming trend creates constantly warming water, not only in the shallows of the lake, but after as much as a week of warm days and nights, the water will begin to warm in the lakes deeper sections as well, lake wide!
Fishing for bass during the late winter / early spring seasons can be feast or famine. But it’s a sure fact you cannot expect to catch these cold weather bass if you’re sitting at home by some warm fire in your easy chair!
Pick your days accordingly and you will greatly improve your chances in your quest for finding and fooling that Big Bass of a lifetime…into biting!
Some of the year’s biggest bass can be caught during this winter and early spring season’s, but only by a little help from you.
All it requires is just simply being there!
Thanks and Good Fishin’
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
Birmingham, Alabama Phone (205) 663-1504
“Over 40 Years Guiding for Bass and Stripers on all of Alabama’s Lakes”